Julia CUNNINGHAM
Name Variations CUNNINGHAME, CONINGHAM
Father John ETCHELLS alias Peter CUNNINGHAM1 b.c. 1805 m. (1) 1844 (2) 1858 d. 18812
Mother Julia HEALEY b.c. 1819 m. (1) 18443 d. 18564
Step-mother Sophia OLIVER nee HUGHES b.c. 18225 m. (2) 18586 d. 18777
Sister Mary Ann CUNNINGHAM b. 18468 m. none - d. 18489
Brother Peter CUNNINGHAM b. 184710 m. none11 - d. 188412
Sister Ellen CONINGHAM b. 184913 m. 188314 Lindsay DUNCAN15 d. 188516
Inmate Julia CUNNINGHAM b. 185117 m. 1879 (see below) d. 189618
Brother Bernard CUNNINGHAM b. 185319 m. none - d. 185420
Husband Robert TYCEHURST aka TYSON b.c. 185021 m. 187922 d. 190723
Daughter Georgina CUNNINGHAM b. 187424 m. d.
Son Samuel CUNNINGHAM b. 187825 m. none - d. 187826
Daughter Maria Elizabeth TYCEHURST b. 188027 m. 190428 Sylvester James PITHERS d. 196029
Daughter Annie May TYCEHURST b. 188330 m. 190531 Herbert A. BLAIR d. 193232
Son Robert TYCEHURST aka TYSON b. 188533 m. 190734 Caroline A. M. STEWART d. 194835
Daughter Ellen TYCEHURST b. 188836 m. 190837 Joseph W. BURKE d. 191338
Description
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father John39 29  5' 5¾"  dark brown bluish  dark sallow lost two front teeth upper jaw; mole back of lower right arm; scar inside top of middle finger left hand; breast and arms hairy; large black whiskers
Father Peter40 57  5' 6½"  grey brown  fresh stout
Mother Julia41 21  5' 0"  brown hazel & inflamed  fair ruddy small mole on right side of upper lip; scar on top of left side of forehead; PCEDE H and cross on upper right arm; mark of a burn on back of lower part of same
Mother Julia42 40  5' 0"  dark brown/black  brown  fresh slight
Inmate Julia43 19  5' 0"  brown  brown 
Brother Peter44 22  5' 6"  brown brown 

Julia had almost certainly been working as a prostitute in Sydney from as early as 1866 as at the age of fifteen she was arrested for prostitution and appeared in the CPC on 24 December 1866, where she was admonished and discharged.45 On 3 September 1867, Julia again appeared in court charged with being a child under the age of sixteen who was living with common prostitutes and who had no lawful visible means of support.46 Her father, who was named and described as a general dealer, said that she would turn sixteen on the 19 December, that she hadn’t lived at home for the last eight months but that he had tried to get her to return. Julia was admitted to Newcastle on 5 September47 where she was described as a Catholic and her assessed educational level was recorded as 'Sequel Number 2 large hand'. Her age was recorded in pencil as eighteen.

It is significant that there was a difference between Julia’s documented and reported birthdates. Although she wasn’t eighteen at the time of her arrest she was certainly too old under the Act to have been admitted to the school but her father’s statement of her age ensured that she was admitted to Newcastle. It is possible that Julia provided family and personal information on her admission to the school and it is also possible that she may have inflated her age to facilitate an early discharge. Julia’s medical assessment by Dr HARRIS showed that she was not a virgin.48 Shortly after eleven o'clock on the night of Tuesday, 1 October 1867, about one month after her arrival in the school, Julia made the first escape from the school.49 In company with Eliza HANMORE, with whom she was almost certainly acquainted from the streets of Sydney, they climbed through one of the back windows and lowered themselves to the ground by and sliding down the drain piping.50 Information concerning their escape was given to the house matron, Mrs. RICE, probably by the other inmates. A futile search was made and eventually the police were notified. The pair was apprehended some distance from the school. After their recapture it was reported to the Colonial Secretary by the Newcastle Police Magistrate, Helenus SCOTT, that the girls had been placed in the Newcastle lock-up as there were no cells provided at the school.51 He and Staff Sergeant MYERS requested permission by telegram to give up possession of two cells in the lock-up or place the girls in the cells in the guard house at the entrance to the military barracks instead. The government approved their detention in the lock-up and the girls appeared before the Newcastle Bench, were reprimanded and were returned to the school. Ultimately many girls were placed in both the guard house cells and the Newcastle lockup. KING reported to the Colonial Secretary on 18 May 1868, that there had been a marked improvement in Julia's behaviour and she was now 'quiet, obedient and Truthful.'52

This behaviour did not last as in her report of 15 September 1868, KING reported that Julia, Grace CRAWFORD and Eliza O'BRIEN were very insubordinate.53 On 26 September 1868, after spending just twelve months in Newcastle, Julia was discharged to her father in Sydney by order of the Colonial Secretary. Her release was quite unusual in that it was recommended by Agnes KING in a letter attached to her report of 29 July 1868, for Julia's

meritorious conduct in assisting to restrain the other Girls from breaking windows on the 9th Inst.54 and also for her general good conduct since her entrance into this institution.

KING elaborated in a further letter written on 10 September stating that Peter CUNNINGHAM had visited Julia in Newcastle on 25 August and

expressed a desire for her release and to take her home. He states he will observe all due precaution and enter into any engagement the Government may require.55

Peter was recorded by LUCAS as P. CUNNINGHAM in the April 1872 list.56 He promised that Julia would return with him to Sydney but it is uncertain whether this occurred as in both October and early November 1868, about two months after her discharge, she almost certainly appeared in Newcastle Court charged with absenting herself from the hired service of a Mr JONES. The charge was withdrawn57 as Julia stated that they had never hired her as a servant.58 It is possible that Julia remained in Newcastle after this time but she was certainly in Sydney and appearing in court from the early 1870s and these court appearances occurred regularly almost until her marriage in 1879. The earliest appearance yet located occurred in December 187059 where she was charged with assault.60 She almost certainly continued to work as a prostitute in Sydney. Darlinghurst Gaol records show that Julia was imprisoned in 1871 and it is very likely that she was also recorded in 1874 in Darlinghurst Gaol as Janet CUNNINGHAM.

16229671415_e0afeb130c.jpg

Baldock's Lane (1880)
Image courtesy of Trove - Digitalized Newspapers
The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne, Vic. : 1873 - 1889)61

Julia was a witness at the inquest into the death of the prostitute Polly CARROLL in Baldock’s Lane in 1876 where she stated that she had been living with a man ‘for about three years’ and had been sent to the Newcastle Reformatory at the age of fourteen.62 The only marriage of a Julia CUNNINGHAM recorded that would match this statement is to Robert John TYCEHURST. This 1876 report strongly suggested that Georgina and Samuel CUNNINGHAM, whose registrations record only their mother, were the children of this unnamed man who was likely to have been Robert TYCEHURST. Robert had spent time in Darlinghurst gaol as he was released from in January 1879.63 Julia ceased to appear in court after 1877. Her marriage to Robert TYCEHURST was confirmed when she placed a funeral notice for her brother, Peter, in 1884. This notice reported that Peter's funeral would leave from the home of his brother-in-law, Robert TYSON, [sic] at 2 Elger Street, Glebe.64 The death of Julia TYCEHURST was registered in Sydney in 1896. The registration incorrectly recorded her mother as Mary.

During July and August 1869, about a year after Julia's release from Newcastle, her name was assumed by another industrial school inmate who had been released from Newcastle at approximately the same time. Susan ATKINS assumed the alias of Julia CUNNINGHAM and became involved in a widely reported murder/suicide incident. Most papers across the country attributed this incident to Julia, but the Empire, repeating an item in the Western Examiner, identified the alias and named the correct girl.65 The paper stated:

that the girl Julia Cunninghame, who was conspicuous in the late tragedy at Bathurst, is well known in Orange, having been sent some months ago to Newcastle by the Orange Bench as a strolling vagrant of bad repute. Her proper name is Susan Atkins. She accounted for the fact of her being at large, by stating to one of the police force in this town that she had been liberated from the asylum on the order of the hon. Colonial Secretary, at the urgent solicitation of her father.

While the actual Julia CUNNINGHAM was the mother of two illegitimate children in Sydney in 1874 and 1878, in light of this Bathurst ‘incident’, the earliest registration of an illegitimate birth occurring in Bathurst in 1871 has not been attributed to the Sydney admission. This child, Mary CUNNINGHAM, was more likely to have been a child of Susan ATKINS who perhaps registered it under the assumed name she was using in Bathurst at the time. It is unknown whether Julia CUNNINGHAM was in Bathurst in July and August 1869 but she was in Sydney in December 187066 and November 187167 and while a trip to Bathurst to have an illegitimate child, is possible, it is considered unlikely. The actual registration for Mary should clarify the identity of her mother by identifying her place of birth and age but it has not been viewed. Julia CUNNINGHAM had been born in Sydney and was four years older than Susan ATKINS who had been born in Carcoar.

Family

The Entrance Book documented that Julia's father was Peter CUNNINGHAM and that her step-mother was Sophia.68 Julia was the child of John ETCHELLS alias Peter CUNNINGHAM and Julia HEALEY aka HALEY or HAYES, who were married in St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Parramatta, in 1844, by the Rev. John GOURBUILLON. The permission to marry for this couple was granted on 21 February 1844, by N. J. COFFEY at Parramatta.69 Julia was born on 11 March 1851, and was baptized by Rev. GOURBUILLON on 1 January 1852. Her birth was recorded in the register of the St James Catholic Church, Sydney. The witnesses at her baptism were Bartholomew DONNELLY and Catherine WALTON. At this time the family was living in Sussex Street, having moved from Castlereagh Street, their residence at the time of the baptism of their daughter, Ellen. This baptism indicated that Julia was already sixteen at the time of her arrest and had therefore been illegally arrested under the act. It is unknown whether Peter deliberately lied to have Julia removed from the streets of Sydney.

Peter was named in the Permission to Marry record as John ETCHELLS and was recorded as thirty-nine years of age. Under this name he had been transported in 1833 for seven years on the Aurora. By March 1854, Peter had abandoned his family70 but he seems to have returned.71 In one court appearance, Julia senior, charged Peter with putting her in fear of her life72 and it was there reported that during the last seven weeks Julia had been drunk

no less than ten times ; that she squandered his money, and neglected their children. (Julia) admitted being drunk on three occasions, and the appearance of the children who surrounded her in the court was anything but creditable to her. In 1858, the year following Julia's death, Peter married the widow, Sophia OLIVER, who was reported as having a grown family.73

Julia was twenty-four when she married Peter. In 1840 she had been transported for seven years on the Margaret (3). The indent reported that her cousins, Edward and Charles HEALEY had been in NSW for about eight years although it was recorded on Julia's indent that they were free.74 Many newspaper articles about Julia's court appearances during the 1850s were reported in the newspapers. In 1854, she was charged with having deserted her infant child and was ordered to give sureties to be of good behaviour or be imprisoned for one month.75 At the age of thirty-seven, after the birth of five children, she died. Her burial was recorded in the St Mary’s register on 23 May 1856. Her parents were recorded in the matching death registration as James and Ellen.

Julia’s brother, Peter, and George CARTWRIGHT were tried on 22 February 1869, for the manslaughter of Joseph Patrick FITZSIMMONS.76 Peter was sentenced to twelve months hard labour in Darlinghurst Gaol. The sentence was remitted. Peter's description confirmed that he was a native of the colony and born in 1847.

Updated June 2015

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License